'Modular' Leukemia Drug Shows Promise In Early Testing

June 29, 2007

A new type of engineered drug candidate has shown promise in treating chronic lymphocytic leukemia in both test tube and early animal tests, a new study shows.

The agent represents a new class of agents called small modular immunopharmaceuticals. Called CD37-SMIP, the agent targets a protein called CD37 on the surface of these leukemia cells.

The study shows that the agent can successfully attach to the protein on the leukemia cells and kill them. The agent works both by triggering the cells' self-destruction and by causing a particular class of immune cells to attack them.

In an animal model, the agent worked equally as well as the drug rituximab, now routinely used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. Rituximab targets a different protein on leukemia cells.

The study by researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center was published online in the journal Blood.

“Our findings have significant implications for the treatment of CLL and related malignancies,” says principal investigator John C. Byrd, director of the hematologic malignancies program at Ohio State 's James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute.

Overall, Byrd says, “the findings indicate that this could be an effective agent for treating CLL and other malignancies, such as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and acute lymphoblastic leukemia when they have expression of the CD37 protein.”

The laboratory portion of the study used CLL cells from patients, laboratory-grown non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cells and acute lymphocytic leukemia cells.

This research showed that the agent kills leukemia cells directly by triggering their self-destruction through the process of apoptosis.

The study also found that this self-destruction happens differently from how other drugs cause apoptosis. Most drugs cause cells to self-destruct by triggering a cell mechanism that requires enzymes called caspases. This new agent, however, works through a mechanism that does not require caspases.

“This is exciting because it means that this agent may benefit patients who are resistant to other CLL drugs,” says co-author Natarajan Muthusamy, a research scientist with Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center. “It also suggests that it might work well in combination with other drugs, as well as alone.”

The findings also show that after the agent binds with the cancer cells, it attracts immune cells called natural killer cells, which also destroy the leukemia cells. Funding from the National Cancer Institute, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the D. Warren Brown Foundation supported this research.

Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Inc., developed CD37-SMIP and provided the drug used in the study. Byrd has received no financial compensation from Trubion.

Source: Ohio State University

Explore further: Second generation BTK inhibitor highly effective as solo therapy in adult leukemia

Related Stories

Second generation BTK inhibitor highly effective as solo therapy in adult leukemia

December 13, 2017
Updated data on the first 134 chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients treated with single-agent acalabrutinib shows that the drug was well-tolerated in the majority of patients treated and responses were durable over time, ...

Triple drug treatment combo shows promise in adult leukemia

December 13, 2017
A triple-drug targeted therapy approach could offer an effective new treatment option for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) that reduces the risk for the long-term side effects experienced with chemotherapy and is given ...

Rapid responses, few adverse effects in targeted agent in Phase1 trial in rare blood disorder

December 10, 2017
In a Phase 1 trial, patients with an advanced or aggressive form of systemic mastocytosis (AdvSM), a rare blood disorder, had rapid and durable responses with few adverse effects following treatment with an investigational ...

Study shows combining chemotherapy with targeted drug boosts response in chronic lymphocytic leukemia

December 11, 2017
Among younger patients newly diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), treatment with a combination of chemotherapy and a molecularly targeted drug significantly improves response over what is typically seen with ...

Immunotherapy strategy could be beneficial for relapsed acute myeloid leukemia

December 11, 2017
University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers report that pairing an immunotherapy drug with chemotherapy proved beneficial for some patients with acute myeloid leukemia whose disease did ...

Study explores use of checkpoint inhibitors after relapse from donor stem cell transplant

December 10, 2017
Immunotherapy agents known as checkpoint inhibitors have shown considerable promise in patients with hematologic cancers who relapse after a transplant with donor stem cells. Preliminary results from the first clinical trial ...

Recommended for you

Drug for spinal muscular atrophy prompts ethical dilemmas, bioethicists say

December 11, 2017
When the Food and Drug Administration approved the first drug for people with spinal muscular atrophy a year ago, clinicians finally had hope for improving the lives of patients with the rare debilitating muscular disease. ...

FDA's program to speed up drug approval shaved nearly a year off the process

December 7, 2017
Speeding the pace at which potentially lifesaving drugs are brought to market was a rallying cry for Donald Trump as a candidate, and is a stated priority of his Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb. ...

Dangers of commonly prescribed painkillers highlighted in study

December 6, 2017
Commonly prescribed painkillers need to be given for shorter periods of time to reduce the risk of obesity and sleep deprivation, a new study has revealed.

Viagra goes generic: Pfizer to launch own little white pill

December 6, 2017
The little blue pill that's helped millions of men in the bedroom is turning white. Drugmaker Pfizer is launching its own cheaper generic version of Viagra rather than lose most sales when the impotence pill gets its first ...

Surgery-related opioid doses can drop dramatically without affecting patients' pain

December 6, 2017
Some surgeons might be able to prescribe a third of opioid painkiller pills that they currently give patients, and not affect their level of post-surgery pain control, a new study suggests.

Four-fold jump in deaths in opioid-driven hospitalizations

December 4, 2017
People who end up in the hospital due to an opioid-related condition are four times more likely to die now than they were in 2000, according to research led by Harvard Medical School and published in the December issue of ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.